PALM BEACH, Fla. — International singer Dana Rosemary Scallon sang for Pope John Paul II many times. This April, she’ll have her first opportunity to sing for Pope Benedict XVI.
Known by fans as simply Dana, she met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2004, a year before he was elected Pope. She’s currently on tour in the United States, leading up to her performance at the “Concert of Hope” in Yankee Stadium on April 20.
She was at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Palm Beach, Fla., to give a concert when she spoke to the Register.
How did you end up singing at Yankee Stadium?
We wrote the Archdiocese of New York to let them know that we were going to be in the country for the Southern Charismatic Regional Conference. Lo and behold, we got a response saying that Cardinal Edward Egan asked that I come and sing at the event.
We’re very honored to be part of the event. Everything culminates in the Mass. Just to be present there, I’m deeply honored.
I’m a big supporter of this Pope. I’m familiar with this format because I had been invited by Cardinal John O’Connor and sang with Placido Domingo and Natalie Cole before the Mass in Central Park in 1995.
What songs will you perform?
I have no details yet, but I would like to sing “We Are One Body” and “Our Lady of Knock.”
Every time I go to New York, I think of one of the great honors for me, which was singing “Our Lady of Knock” at the opening of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities for Cardinal O’Connor. I would love to take a bit of Ireland there that day.
This won’t be the first time you’ve met Pope Benedict.
No, I first met Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for a private 45-minute meeting in 2004 after receiving the San Benedetto Award, from an association of worldwide Catholic doctors and family organizations, for my work upholding the family and life. I was the fifth recipient of the award; Cardinal Ratzinger was the sixth.
What was your impression?
I don’t know what I expected. I had been affected by the media portrayals of him as a “guard dog” or a “rottweiler.”
As I sat waiting for him to walk in that room, I was sure that he was going to be 6-6 and so imposing that I wouldn’t be able to breathe. Instead, I found a very warm person come through the door.
He was a gentle, humble, warm, intelligent man. It was lovely to meet a man who is recognized as being so brilliant, yet was so humble and gentle. This is a wonderful Pope we have. Truly, the Holy Spirit has chosen this man.
What did you talk about during that meeting?
Because I was, at that time, involved in politics, we talked about the European charter and the planned European Constitution. He has written extensively on the dangers contained in the fundamental Charter of Human Rights.
I had campaigned heavily for a reference to Europe’s Christian roots and a reference to God in the Constitution, and the dangers to life and the family in the Charter. We discussed those things.
We had had a contentious referendum on abortion in Ireland. He assured me that my position was correct and was in the Church’s teaching.
What do you think he might address during his time here?
I’m sure that he must be going to expand on our responsibilities as Christians.
He has defined for us what is expected of us in the 21st century. He has focused us on the responsibilities we have and the sins that are being committed. He’s contemporary, challenging, truthful and leading us, but he’s compassionate.
We need to be taught, focused and reminded of the responsibilities we have as Catholic Christians, especially at a time when a world power is going to the polls to vote. In speaking to America, he will be speaking to the whole world.
What does the future hold for Europe?
We are at a crucial time in Europe where they are focusing on the adoption of a secular humanist Constitution. The next 10 months will be very crucial, as countries are being called upon to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which was drawn up to replace the draft European Constitution.
The leaders want to try to get the same document passed with a couple of tweaks. The European Constitution, of which the charter is the foundation stone, was rejected by only two countries — France and the Netherlands.
Ireland will have a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. There are a number of questions that are very crucial to the well-being of the Catholic Church, life and family. The whole status of the Church in Europe could be affected. The autonomy that the Church enjoys throughout Europe could be ended because it will then depend upon the status of the Church country by country.
They are breaking down the universality of the Church.
Tim Drake is based in
St. Joseph, Minnesota.